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The spring book festival season is underway. As a public service, here is a list of bad behavior I've observed and/or had to contend with.
After more than a year of silence, I thought my father's 106th birthday would be a good day to start posting to this blog again. Especially since I acquired this photo yesterday.
Why would such a story run four years after the divorce and some two years after my father had married again? Dad was still appearing on radio but his movie career had plummeted since 1938, when Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn called him a "Red sonofabitch" and said that any studio that renewed his contract should be fined $100,000. Consequently Dad was in just two pictures in 1940, down from eight in 1936. What an odd coincidence that just eight days after the above photo was stamped, "secret" testimony about him was leaked to the press in Los Angeles.MOVIE COMEDIANS CAN'T STAY MARRIEDLIONEL STANDER divorced Mrs. Lucy Stander in 1936. He charged she was hostile and belligerent and would call him names in the presence of their friends. She also told him, according to his complaint, that she was tired of him and regarded her marriage as a handicap. The Standers had been married eight years.
(Copyright 1939, Register and Tribune Syndicate Photoservice)
More like Quote of the Year, since I haven't posted since January. (Curse you, Facebook & Twitter!)
"Men don't seem to notice unless there's a breast hanging out! But the fact that they look at our faces is rather nice."
Revealed: Women Are the Secret Oglers
My father died 17 years ago today. November 30 is also Mark Twain's birthday. I imagine Dad would have liked to be linked to Twain, however tenuously. Funny... I just now remembered that I read THE INNOCENTS ABROAD the one time I visited Dad at his home in L.A.
In his early years in Hollywood, Dad lent his voice to various progressive causes, which got him branded as "a Red sonofabitch" (allegedly by Columbia Pictures honcho Harry Cohn), then tailed for decades by the FBI. The sign proclaiming "SCHOLARSHIPS NOT BATTLESHIPS" in this photo from 1937 (below) would have been perfect for an anti-Vietnam War demonstration--or an Occupy rally now. Alas, Dad and the other peaceniks were proved wrong four years later, when battleships became vastly more necessary.
NEW YORK, May 6--Rep. Harold Velde, left, (R-Ill. chairman of the House Unamerican Activities Committee, points a warning finger at witness Lionel Stander, seated at right, during the actor's testimony here today. Stander refused to tell the committee at an open hearing whether he had ever been a Communist. He said he was not now a Communist, but refused to say whether he was a party member between 1935 and 1948. Rep. Morgan M. Moulder (D-Mo9.) sits beside Velde.Add a Comment
To the legislators of 2011 and most especially the candidates of 2012, I offer this excerpt from Charles Dickens's LITTLE DORRIT:
Containing the whole Science of GovernmentWhatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving--HOW NOT TO DO IT.
Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it invariably seized it, and through the genius with which it always acted on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the public departments; and the public condition had risen to be--what it was.
It is true that How not to do it was the great study and object of all public departments and professional politicians all round the Circumlocution Office. It is true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had been raving on hustings because it hadn't been done, and who had been asking the friends of the honourable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn't been done, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done. It is true that the debates of both Houses of Parliament the whole session through, uniformly tended to the protracted deliberation, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech at the opening of such session virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have a considerable stroke of work to do, and you will please to retire to your respective chambers, and discuss, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech, at the close of such session, virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have through several laborious months been considering with great loyalty and patriotism, How not to do it, and you have found out; and with the blessing of Providence upon the harvest (natural, not political), I now dismiss you. All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.Add a Comment
I kept thinking how much the US Congress dickering over the debt ceiling is just like Dickens's Circumlocution Office, with all the talk of why "it can't be done." So I put aside Susan Isaacs's LILY WHITE, which was boring me, in favor of LITTLE DORRIT, which isn't.
The cinematic opening, which I looked for in vain when I watched the BBC series, fits right in with the breathless weather we're having:
Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day. A blazing sun upon a fierce August day was no greater rarity in southern France then, than at any other time, before or since. Everything in Marseilles, and about Marseilles, had stared at the fervid sky, and been stared at in return, until a staring habit had become universal there. Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring white houses, staring white walls, staring white streets, staring tracts of arid road, staring hills from which verdure was burnt away. The only things to be seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the vines drooping under their load of grapes. These did occasionally wink a little, as the hot air barely moved their faint leaves.This may be the last time I read my Penguin paperback edition, which I bought in 1984, as the pages keep fluttering out of the cracked binding. It's odd to have a book that I remember buying new to be looking--and especially smelling--so old. Add a Comment
There was no wind to make a ripple on the foul water within the harbour, or on the beautiful sea without. The line of demarcation between the two colours, black and blue, showed the point which the pure sea would not pass; but it lay as quiet as the abominable pool, with which it never mixed. Boats without awnings were too hot to touch; ships blistered at their moorings; the stones of the quays had not cooled, night or day, for months.
The Family Fang, Kevin Wilsonâs debut novel from Ecco Press, opens with:
Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief. "You make a mess and then you walk away from it," their daughter, Annie, told them.And what a mess Caleb and Camille Fang have made of Annie and her younger brother Buster! Labeled âChild Aâ and âChild B,â from infancy they were pressed into serviceânot always willingly, or even wittinglyâas key players in their parentsâ notorious performance art pieces.
"No corrupt mind ever understands words healthily."
--THE DECAMERON (c1350), Giovanni Boccaccio
I laughed out loud when I saw this AP headline:
Newt Gingrich says his passion for his country contributed to his marital infidelity.Yes, and my passion for dessert contributed to my thighs...
The twice-divorced former U.S. House speaker has admitted he had an affair with Callista, a former congressional aide, while married to his second wife. It happened at the same time he was attacking President Bill Clinton for his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.Takeaway (via Jon Stewart): There are 3 women who'd have sex with Newt Gingrich!
He also said former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller, a Democrat who has backed many Republicans in recent years, will serve as a co-chairman of his national campaign effort.Add a Comment
My driveway was plowed early yesterday--apparently after the newspaper was delivered, as I spotted its bright blue plastic wrapper peeking out of a snow bank this morning. I read the "Weekend Arts" section over lunch and hit gold in an article about the Winter Antiques Show, A Smorgasbord of Fine Art, the Strange and the Old:
At Allan Katz, there is a sculpture of two voluptuous nude women, one fondling the otherâs breast, smoothly carved from a solid block of mahogany. This comical, curiously erotic fusion of autodidactic craft and neo-Classical style is believed to have been created by an unknown artisan about 1920 for a Buffalo sex cult.1920. Buffalo. SEX CULT.
A snowstorm is Nature's way of saying "Stay home!" And I'd gladly hibernate inside, only I have this 64-pound bundle of joy that needs off-leash romps several times a day. So I put on the puffy jacket, pulled up the tall boots and ventured out.
Abby went over to the car, as usual, and was incredulous when I started walking up the street. After a bit of convincing--she didn't understand about the driveway not being plowed--she came bounding through the snow. We trespassed in our neighbors' backyards (nobody else was outside; go figure) then ended up in our own, where I took these pictures.
Someone built a snow(wo?)man at Burger Hill, Rhinebeck, our default dogwalking venue. Abby wasn't having any part of it. After much barking--plus a treat placed at its base--she cautiously approached before going up the hill with me.
She barked at it again on the way down. One can't be too careful...
Abby 2 days ago after a good night's sleep (note pillow on floor), with her ball & Boy Wonder's gently chewed shoes.
In my July 24 update on Mother's Little Odalisque, I said I'd put heavier furniture on the couch (see above) to keep Abby off. That worked like a charm. Now my Clever Girl is pulling the throw pillows, which I stack on a chair at night, onto the floor to cushion her weary head. One of my next purchases will be a cushy dog bed, which she'd damn well better sleep on.
Halloween's coming, which means it's time once again for Publicity Horror Stories. Send yours in today! Anonymity strictly guaranteed.
For starters, here's a creepy tale from a book review editor at a regional publication:
I occasionally get these nasty emails from self-published authors or authors whose books don't fit with what we cover. Here's one I got last week, from some sort of Ph.D. guy:Display Comments Add a Comment
"Well, the books are in. Are you interested or not? I believe I have had enough of a career to merit a response."
It's always men who send these kinds of angry emails. When I was on maternity leave for 6 weeks with my last baby, some other guy was emailing me repeatedly, getting angry that I wasn't answering. Finally when I got back to work I told him that I'd been on maternity leave, he was like, "Oh, sorry. So will you review my book?"
Seated: Brady, Abby, Bumble (our canine host) and Poppy. Standing: Michelle, Marty (holding Clarissa), Polly and Gracious Hostess Colleen (look out, Martha Stewart!).
Abby is the only dog I've had whose real birthday I've known: Nov 7, the day before mine. I told that to my wonderful new friend Colleen, who decided to throw Abby a birthday party. (We met while walking dogs; go figure.) So at 8:00 a.m. today, 5 women and 5 canines met at her Gracious Home (a fabu 1770s farmhouse with 1820s addition) for a wet but lovely walk.
Colleen doesn't do anything by half-measures: afterward there were wheat- and corn-free cookies from Pause Dog Boutique for the canines; coffee, homemade muffins and birthday cake for the humans. Plus a specially decorated cake for Abby to take home, which I'll give her Sunday when I'm hosting a birthday party at my own (much newer, smaller) Gracious Home.
Above: Brady, Bumble and Abby sniff at the goodies offered by Colleen. I'm the astonished one at left; Marty is holding Clarissa.
Below: I give Clarissa a treat while Bumble, Brady and Abby look on. (They'd just had one but of course wanted more.)
My friend Martha asked me to send her my "traditional" recipes for Thanksgiving. In the spirit of giving, I thought I'd share them with you all.
Garlicky Cranberry Chutney
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's East/West Menus for Family & Friends (Harper & Row, 1987)
1-inch fresh ginger, peeled
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 TBS brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can cranberry sauce with berries or 1 qt homemade sauce (or however much you get from a bag of fresh cranberries)
approx 1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of ground black pepper
Cut ginger into paper-thin slices, stack them together and cut into really thin slivers. Combine with garlic, vinegar, sugar and cayenne in a small pot. Simmer on medium heat about 15 minutes or until there are about 4 TBS liquid left.
Add cranberry sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then serve. It will keep for several days--if you don't finish it ALL after the first taste!
Bellaâs Garden Rice Stuffing
Cook 2 cups Arborio rice in 4 cups water.
1 lg onion, chopped
approx 1 cup toasted pecans, broken in pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. carrot, chopped
1 tsp allspice
at least 1 TBS dried oregano
5 large sage leaves, chopped fine
10 lemon balm leaves, chopped fine
leaves from approx 6 sprigs of thyme, chopped fine
40 grinds black pepper
1 tsp salt
When cool enough to handle, stuff in bird. Put remainder in ovenproof casserole and bake in oven 1 hour at 325Â° (along with turkey, if your oven's big enough)
Turkey with Roasted Garlic Butter
(Washington Post, 1997)
2 whole bulbs garlic
2 TBS olive oil
8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
Uncooked turkey at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350Â°. Cut about 1/2 inch off the top of the garlic bulbs to expose each clove. Drizzle with oil and loosely wrap the bulbs, cut ends up, in aluminum foil. Bake until soft to the touch, 45-60 mins. Let cool until easy to handle.
Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins. Discard skins. Mix the garlic pulp with butter and salt. Reserve 2 TBS of the mixture. Rub the rest of it under the turkey skin (loosen with your fingers on the back and legs).
Preheat oven to 325 Â°. Put turkey on rack in roasting pan. After stuffing it, rub the remaining 2 TBS of butter all over the skin.
Roast for about 45 mins, till golden brown. Tent with foil and continue roasting. After 2 more hours, baste with pan juices every 15 mins till bird is done (approx 3-1/2 hrs for 12-14 lb bird). Use juices to make the best gravy EVER.
Eager to preserve his new furniture as long as possible, eccentric Lionel Stander, most popular of Hollywood comedians, selects this strange pose for purpose of relaxation and reading. Whether the book's more interesting read sidewise is a question only Stander can answer. His latest Columbia picture is "Cinderella Man," directed by Frank Capra and starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. Lionel recently moved into a renovated farmhouse in the center of Hollywood, modernized for him by R. M. Schindler."Cinderella Man," retitled "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," was named Best Picture of 1936 by the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review. Capra won his second Oscar for directing and Cooper was nominated as Best Actor. My eldest half-sister was 3; my mother was 2.
COVETED GATED LA BREA TERRACE PRIVATE COMPOUNDLooks like an old farmhouse all right, but the windows were changed:
4 Bedrooms | 4.0 Bathrooms | 3,753 Sq. Ft. | 23,070 Sq. FT. Lot
Rarely are homes available in this private neighborhood. On over half an acre of private gardens is this fine home. Large LR w/ fplc, formal DR, kitchen with best appliances, play room, FR, library w/ fplc. Master with balcony, fplc, sitting area, bath with spa tub. Pecan floors throughout. Pool, outside fireplace, guest house with LR, kitchen, 1BD and 1BA and 2 separate garages for 4 cars. RECENTLY LISTED FOR $5,500,000, CURRENT PRICE MAKES THIS PROPERTY AN OUTSTANDING VALUE IN TODAYS MARKET.
The view from my kitchen window a few minutes ago. Alas, the food fights stop (finches are very scrappy) as soon as I get near the window with my camera.
Holiday thoughts from razor-witted Patrick Dennis (aka Edward Everett Tanner III), who deserves to be remembered as the author of books beyond AUNTIE MAME.
AROUND THE WORLD WITH AUNTIE MAME (1958) begins with this:
Christmas is nearly here and I look forward to it more and more with loathing. All the shops that didn't have their holiday decorations up by Michaelmas made up for it with sheer ostentation by Halloween. Canned carols bleat from every corner. The clerks at Saks are surlier, the ones at Lord & Taylor lordlier, the ones at Bergdorf's bitchier than at any other season.From THE JOYOUS SEASON* (1964), narrated by a 10-year-old boy:
Daddy always said that Christmas is a joyous season when suicides and hold-ups and shoplifting and like that reach a new high and that the best place to spend the whole thing is a Moslem country.*Confession: I've put down THE FINKLER QUESTION twice to reread Patrick Dennis. Interpret as you wish. Add a Comment